I’ve been thinking of that “Homecoming” trailer, and I realized something: My analysis was wrong. “Homecoming” is the beginning of the end of the MCU.
Well, not “Homecoming”. Technically “Doctor Strange”.
Early in the MCU, there was no guarantee the franchise would be a juggernaut. “Iron Man” was a huge risk. There’s a reason they followed it up with name brand heroes like the Hulk and Captain America. They wanted to build a brand. Even Thor was a little more well known than Iron Man was, if only from Norse mythology. The risky franchises, like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man”, came later.
Then “Doctor Strange” was made. The Marvel formula always included background and side characters of different races and sexes. But “Doctor Strange” was different. Not only was Eastern European aristocrat Baron Mordo turned into a well-spoken black man, the Ancient One was changed from an old oriental man to a middle-aged Scottish woman. Yes, she was changed into a white person, but don’t kid yourself: This was about social justice. It was about adding a woman and changing stereotypes. Tilda Swinton was terrific, sure, but that wasn’t the point.
“Doctor Strange” wisely didn’t comment on this at all, since it had nothing to do with the movie, but it was an experiment: viewers were willing to accept changes to even more major characters without revolting.
And now “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is continuing the experiment. I’m sure “Homecoming” will be very good. They don’t seem to be attempting to do any commentary on racial issues, the casting for Peter Parker is excellent, and honestly it does make sense for an NYC high school to have more minorities than white folks.
But focusing on that misses the point. Now *everybody* who is a part of Peter’s world, including best friends, BOTH love interests, and even Flash Thompson, are minorities. Even if Zendaya’s character isn’t Mary Jane, they specifically made Peter’s love interests minorities. They specifically made sure to make his best friend a minority. And don’t think for a second that the villain being white is a coincidence – you’re “allowed” to make the villain white and still fulfill your social justice quota.
“Homecoming” isn’t the end point. It’s a test. It’s to see how much diversity casting audiences are willing to accept without revolt. “Star Wars” underwent the same evolution. The prequels made Star Wars think they were invincible; even after critical bashing, they were all still huge monetary hits. Thinking they could get away with anything, they started diversity casting with “The Force Awakens”. It was also a huge hit, but this time…there were rumblings. Brian Niemeier relays those concerns well.
But the franchise still doesn’t see it. They still think they’re invincible. And now, “Rogue One”, explicitly a pro-diversity, SJW film, as openly bragged about by the writers, is going to be the beginning of the end. Oh, it will do well. But it won’t do as well as they expect it to do. They still don’t understand the difference between a movie being poor and insulting your viewers.
“Homecoming” is Marvel’s test. And it will do well. And it will be the beginning of the end for Marvel, because they will think they’re invincible, and their SJW messages will get more and more overt, and, as always, people will get tired of it.
I don’t think “Spider-Man: Homecoming will be bad. In fact, I think it’ll probably be great. But it’s a sign of things to come, and mark my words: It’s not a good one.